The outgoing head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence service has offered the closest recognition, but his country has been left behind by recent attacks on Iran’s nuclear program and a military scientist.
Yossi Cohen’s comments, speaking to Israel’s Channel 12 Uvda investigation program in a segment aired Thursday night, offered an extraordinary debriefing by the head of the typically secret agency in what appears to be the latter. days of the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
He also gave a clear warning to other scientists in Iran’s nuclear program that they too could become targets for assassination even as Vienna diplomats seek to negotiate terms to try to save the 2015 nuclear deal with and world powers. U.S. President Joe Biden has sent his diplomats to revive the deal that his predecessor, Donald Trump, left in 2018.
“If the scientist is willing to change careers and it doesn’t hurt us anymore, then yes, he sometimes offers them” a way out, Cohen said.
Among the main attacks to target Iran, no one made deeper than two explosions last year at its Natanz nuclear power plant. Here, the centrifuges enrich the uranium from an underground chamber designed to protect them from air attacks.
In July 2020, a mysterious explosion tore apart Natanz’s advanced centrifuge assembly, which Iran later blamed on Israel. Later in April this year, another explosion ripped through one of its underground enrichment halls.
Discussing Natanz, the interviewer asked Cohen where he would take them if they could travel there, saying “to the basement” where “the centrifuges were turning.”
“It doesn’t look like it used to,” he added.
Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful
Cohen did not directly vindicate the attacks, but his specificity offers the closest recognition of an Israeli hand in the attacks. The interviewer, journalist Ilan Dayan, also offered a detailed description in a spy voice of how Israel infiltrated the explosives into Natanz’s underground living rooms.
“The man who was responsible for these explosions, it becomes clear, made sure to provide the Iranians with the marble foundation on which the centrifuges are placed,” Dayan said. “While installing this foundation at the Natanz facility, they have no idea it already includes a huge amount of explosives.”
They also discussed the November assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, an Iranian scientist who started Tehran’s military nuclear program decades ago. The US and its regional ally Israel suspect that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons. But Tehran has long maintained its peaceful agenda.
While Cohen in the camera did not support the killing, Dayan in the segment described Cohen as “personally signed for the entire campaign.” Dayan also described how a remote-controlled machine gun attached to a pick-up truck killed Fakhrizadeh and then self-destructed.
Cohen described an Israeli effort to dissuade Iranian scientists from participating in the program, which had seen some quit their jobs after being warned, albeit indirectly, by Israel. Asked by the interviewer if the scientists understood the implications if they didn’t stop, Cohen said, “They see their friends.”
They also talked about the Israeli operation that took archival documents from Iran’s military nuclear program. Dayan said 20 agents – none Israeli – seized material from 32 safes, after which they scanned and transmitted a large portion of the documents. Cohen confirmed that the Mossad received most of the material before it was physically expelled from Iran.
New warning to Iran
Cohen defended Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to go public with the results of the operation, going against an old secret practice involving Mossad activities.
“It was important for us that the world saw it, but this thing should also resonate with the Iranian leadership, to say, ‘Dear friends: One, you have been infiltrated. Two, we see you … Three, the era of … the lies is over, ”Cohen said.
The media in Israel operates under a ten-year policy that requires journalists to shed light on stories regarding security issues through military censors. These observations by Cohen apparently cleared the censors suggest that Israel wanted to issue a new warning to Iran amid the Vienna nuclear talks.
Iran has repeatedly complained about Israel’s attacks, with Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA Kazem Gharibabadi warning Thursday that the incidents “will not only be answered decisively, but will certainly leave no choice for Iran. but to reconsider its transparency measures and its cooperation policy ”.
Iran has allowed inspections of its nuclear sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), but has threatened to stop cooperation if the nuclear deal is not revoked. Tehran has called on the United States to lift sanctions on its return to the agreement.
Thursday, the Biden administration sanctions lifted on three Iranian government officials and two companies days before the next round of negotiations in Vienna.
Iran’s mission to the UN did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Cohen’s statements, which was replaced by former operator David Barnea. Cohen in the interview acknowledged that one day he might seek himself the office of prime minister.